The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) have recently approved two grants of US $1 million each, to Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau as emergency assistance to support the implementation of National Preparedness and Response Plans to fight the Zika virus outbreak in the two countries.
The support will be complementary to the Bank’s past and ongoing health systems strengthening efforts accompanying and working in coordination with other partners.
The US $2-million grant will be implemented by the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa (WHO/AFRO) and is expected to play a catalytic role in strengthening disease surveillance, vector control and tackling issues of environmental sanitation, in an approach which integrates the social, economic and environmental determinants of health.
As of September 8, 2016, 72 countries have reported over 88,000 suspected cases of which 6,500 were confirmed. Given its presence in Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau, the WHO warns it is likely the outbreak will spread to the rest of Africa.
“The Ebola and Zika virus disease outbreaks are a wakeup call to all African Governments and partners that we have been underinvesting in public health care systems in Africa,” said President Adesina at a high-level panel debate on “Universal Health Coverage in Africa” at the recent Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI) in Nairobi.
Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in monkeys through a network that monitored yellow fever. It was later identified in humans in 1952 in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania. Outbreaks of Zika virus disease have been recorded in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific.
From the 1960s to 1980s, human infections were found across Africa and Asia, typically accompanied by mild illness. (WHO 2016)
Lessons learned from the Ebola outbreak, show the need for timely and effective response in fighting the disease. This is also a call for more partnerships and support to all stakeholders for a healthy Africa.